Pueblo, CO - Some men are brothers by birthright. Others are brothers by choice. The strongest bonds tend to come from the latter.
Regis and I first met in an ice skating arena in Denver, CO. I think we were still in junior high or in the summer between junior high and high school. We had a lot in common. We held most forms of authority in contempt. Both of us considered rules to be guidelines rather then hard and fast boundaries. Neither of us really cared who made the rule(s) in question at the time.
Regis was the big brother I so badly needed at that point in my life. My mother did her best, but she was completely clueless as to what was involved in growing up as a young boy. My dad was a busy part time father and other then extended summer visits he wasn't around a lot during that period in my life.
Regis taught me that sometimes you have to fight if you want to be left alone. He showed me that size doesn't matter. He also taught me the value of a roll of quarters in a sock.
Of course, these lessons ran contrary to my mother's philosophy. Sadly, trying to follow my mother's line of thinking made me a target for every bully that happened to walk by. That all stopped almost overnight once the bullies found out that I was ready, willing and able to fight back.
In spite of their philosophical differences, Regis made my mother laugh many times. She liked him even though most other parents were forbidding their children to come within two miles of either of us. Looking back it occurs to me she did not know the profound impact Regis had on my life. In retrospect, I think she would have approved.
Growing up with Regis as a friend was never dull. One summer afternoon Regis stopped by the house with a pressurized water fire extinguisher. Regis showing up with unusual items in and of itself was not all that unusual. However, Regis felt the thing would make a fine keg and had filled it with beer. He looked at my mother and asked, "You want a beer?"
When he tried to fill a glass from the fire extinguisher the pressure was way to high. The beer went in the glass, made an instant u-turn and pretty much went up his nose. I don't think my mother ever laughed so hard in her life.
There is no doubt that Regis saved my life at least once, probably more then that. Somehow it doesn't quite seem fair that that he made it to whatever comes next ahead of me. But life has never really been fair.
When my first wife died, Regis was there. He let me mourn in my own way. That involved diving into a bottle and staying there. After a couple of months of covering for me and generally looking out for me, Regis took me aside and said, "We all know you are pretty tore up. You have the absolute right to kill yourself if you want to. But if you are going to do that, don't do it where the rest of us that care about you have to watch."
That brought me back. And he was there to help with the pain when the Jack Daniel's wore off.
Looking back on it, I think Regis changed my life in more ways then could or should be listed here.
Regis was the best man at two of my weddings. The second wedding was a formal affair with matching tuxedos and the works. To this day I can still clearly see him riding up on his Harley wearing his tux.
For most of his life Regis was big and mean looking. In reality it took a great deal to make him mad. But when that line was crossed the effect went well beyond mere appearances.
Inside that huge bulk was a heart of gold. He was quick to jump the defense of anyone in trouble or being bullied. The odds were never a consideration. His compassion was especially evident when we drove ambulance together. He was especially good with injured children.
Regis left this life suddenly last Saturday. His health had not been all that hot, but no one suspected that he was anywhere near finished. He was happy in his personal life. Most of that joy came from his mate, a wonderful woman named Joanne. They complimented each other in a way that was obvious. When he talked of her he tried to be the gruff-biker-manly-man. But I've known Regis long enough to hear the love in his voice. He adored her beyond anyone else I've seen him with.
Regis was my brother. We weren't born that way, it just happened. He made me a better person because of it. There is no way to fill the kind of void his absence is going to leave.
Today Regis is being remembered by those he was closest to. I cannot be there so I am posting this today as my own one person memorial to him.
Good bye my brother. See you on the other side.
All I want out of this life is to make the old lady happy, earn a decent living, and ride the bike once in a while.